2018 has been a busy year for Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) as we turn 21 years, and it has seen the team in full action!  This has been with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and our long standing members – all of whom believe in the power and value of the arts – both as an intrinsic value and as an economic value.

In addressing the latest developments in the organisation and society, and ensuring the alignment with the strategic structure, BASA divides its activities into four sets of programmes: research, connectivity, growth and celebration.


BASA has a raft of research documents that it uses in its consultancy with corporates and for advocacy. Drawn from different initiatives, including BASA’s ArtsTrack Research, BASA Supporting Grants, BASA Awards, and other arts-based initiatives, this research provides crucial insights into best practice, shifts and trends, and return on investment, and is being used to inform the next generation of arts business partnerships – once again underlining BASA’s value to government, business and the arts sector in the new decade.

The consolidated research, “20 Years of BASA: A model for facilitating successful, sustainable business-arts partnerships”, pulled together 20 years of research from all BASA programmes, and was launched at the BASA Research Colloquium, partnered by Hollard, on 16 February 2018.  In addition to sharing BASA’s research and experience, delegates were inspired by keynote speaker, New York-based Laura Callanan of Upstart Co-Lab, supported by the US Embassy, who addressed Impact Investing in the Arts, and by case study presentations from select BASA members.

Currently, BASA is involved in two projects funded by the FirstRand Foundation:

  • The cultural mapping research, which has seen testing of the initial beta model mapping annual festivals and events and linking the user to their websites and nearby graded accommodation, with the idea of making arts, culture and heritage more accessible and encouraging tourists (both domestic and international) to extend their stay in those areas. Further extensive research is underway so that other arts, culture and heritage sites and locations across South Africa can be added to the map, further tested, and launched.
  • Strengthening DAC State Owned Entity Councils, also in partnership with the DAC, began with baseline research on all 25 DAC institutions with regards to the challenges and opportunities within their councils, followed by capacity building workshops piloted with select entities and their council members, and the development of a toolkit as a basic guide for induction and for regular ongoing council practice. The next phase sees BASA and the DAC working together to develop a Cultural Institutions Governance Framework and standard council assessment template, as well as other potential interventions through the BASA BoardBank, for example.  We are also exploring the possibility of creating a sector-wide practice note in alignment with the King IV Report with the Institute of Directors of South Africa.


It is within the area of connectivity that BASA identifies the value of arts partnerships through arts-based intelligence and initiatives, shared value, human resources and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment.

BASA uses its research learnings to create opportunities, to connect the private sector and the arts sector both in South Africa, but also across borders.  This set of programmes focuses on the support of, and for the public sector, with the understanding that systemic change is required, if we are going to see equitable business arts partnerships.

BASA currently has 121 diverse members, ranging from large corporates to individual entrepreneurs.  We provide these members with a bespoke consultancy service giving access to research, resources, support, networks and information to support their endeavours to leverage their companies within the arts sector and create valuable partnerships.  Over the past few months, BASA has welcomed new members Julie Miller Investment Art, Kauru African Contemporary Art, (Pty) Ltd, Mrs Woolf, Paramount Promotions, Tata Waste, and The Coloured Cube.

In line with the DAC’s African focus and the importance of cultural diplomacy, BASA has established a growing engagement and strategy to participate more rigorously with the broader continent.  To this end, the organisation works closely with diverse members, supporting them in their cross border goals. Currently Business and Arts South Africa is working with: Standard Bank on an opportunity to work with the Bank in Ghana.

Business and Arts South Africa was also awarded a tender to further its Partnered Africa work in Ethiopia, which saw partnership with the British Council Creative Futures Business Engagement Programme in Ethiopia, funded by the European Union.  The programme was implemented in December 2017 and January 2018, with a research element, a series of curated business breakfasts, workshops, and arts-based experiential learning initiatives with the private sector and the creative sector, showcasing opportunities in Ethiopia’s creative and cultural sector, whilst brokering mutually beneficial partnerships between business and the arts, and the development of a toolkit on private sector investment specific to the Ethiopian context.

Furthermore, in February 2018, Business and Arts South Africa partnered with the British Council and Digify Africa on a training programme roadshow to Zambia and Zimbabwe to give artists the skills they need need to make the most of digital technology to grow their markets.  These #OwnYourMark artist workshops were free and had both online and face-to-face components focused on understanding creative market growth; planning strategically for creative marketing; defining trends, motives and barriers; making the most of the social media and of e-commerce platforms; and the importance of content marketing in business growth.  The programme was also presented in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Staff member Boitumelo Motsoatsoe participated in the Common Purpose Africa Venture, focusing on Cultural Intelligence and Leading Beyond Authority, which saw her attend workshops from 7-11 May in Nairobi, Kenya, and from 27-30 August in Lagos, Nigeria, as well as participate in webinars from Johannesburg between visits.  Being at these workshops not only assisted Motsoatsoe’s personal growth as a leader but has fed into her work, particularly the processes of recruitment, communication, facilitation and the monitoring and evaluation of the programmes within BASA.  She said, “as a leader, I understand and appreciate the need to burst my own bubble and to be open-minded about others and society at large.”

BASA CEO, Michelle Constant, was invited to participate in the Arts Summit of Southern Africa (ASSA) in Namibia as a panellist from 21–23 August.  ASSA, co-hosted by the National Arts Council of Namibia, focused on issues related to evidence-based policy making, a healthy ecology for creative professionals in the creative industries, arts education, and cultural leadership in relation to the creative economy. According to Constant, “this conference pointed out the effort, grit and skill it takes to run effective programmes, as well as the necessity for the creative social entrepreneurship space.”

Constant also travelled to Ethiopia with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) to present the BASA model at the 5th African Union Pan-African Cultural Congress (PACC5) in Addis Ababa from 5-7 September.  Together with members from creative businesses, governments, and private sector, they addressed the topic Advancing the African Union Agenda 2063 through Culture and the African Creative Economy.  Some of the themes under this heading included Pan African Values and Ideals, Cultural Diplomacy and the role of the Creative Industry in the Socio-Economic development of the Continent.  What is apparent is the importance of the sector, government and business to ensure that the values of the creative industries are measured – monitoring and evaluation, numbers and narrative are a constant that need to be continuously highlighted and engaged.  The opportunity to attend the event, and represent South Africa, was an excellent one for BASA.  Firstly, we were able to measure our own value on the continent.  Without doubt, the organisation is one that continues to make a name for itself with regards to the cross sectoral work we are doing.  The value that we are able to offer our neighbours on the continent is growing, and supports our Partnered Africa Programme.  Given the learnings from our own research and from the DAC supported South African Cultural Observatory, South Africa is demonstrating a powerful vision for the creative sector moving forward.


Growth is best exemplified by new programmes that have provided and supported knowledge transfer, skills development, and training within the cultural and creative sector, helping to make arts organisations “opportunity ready”. Through skills development, BASA provides agency and access for the arts sector in order to support its engagement with the business sector. Over the past year, we have been consolidating our diverse programmes and finding ways to ensure systemic change.

The DAC Debut Programme sees BASA partnering with the DAC and the National Lotteries Council to support emerging artists throughout South Africa with knowledge and skills development to enable them to shift from amateur to professional. As they launch/implement their first album, film or book, the DAC Debut Programme also enables participants to pitch for funding to further support their venture. The programme combines DAC Debut Funding with BASA’s Education and Mentorship Programmes, as well as opportunities to apply for BASA Supporting Grants (should applicants be eligible). Additionally, BASA partnered with community arts centres in each province for marketing and logistical support and a local point of contact, and trained a local co-facilitator in each province who supported BASA’s facilitators during the programme, as well as the delegates between workshop visits, with a view to them later being equipped to facilitate further within their community after completing this programme. The DAC Debut Programme was launched mid-2017 and its Kickstarter Training phase was completed during 2017. These delegates were then given the opportunity to pitch their ventures for funding, and successful delegates have been awarded their small Catalyst Grants and continued with the programme’s Hlanganisa Training during 2018.  They are currently implementing and reporting on their funded projects/ventures, and at the graduation ceremonies being rolled out in each province they have the opportunity to pitch for the Launch Grant and mentorship.  To close off this intake of the programme, early in 2019 BASA will host an Awards Ceremony where the Launch Grant and other award recipients will be announced and celebrated.

COSY (Creating Opportunity for South Africa’s Youthis coordinated by the British Council, in partnership with Business and Arts South Africa, LifeCo UnLtd South Africa and Digify Africa, and funded by the European Union. It aims to enable young people (particularly young women) in rural and semi-rural areas to be more active agents in achieving sustainable growth in South Africa. This is done by building their capacity to become entrepreneurs and by increasing their employability. The programme works in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with a particular focus on creative, digital and social enterprise. A community mapping exercise was undertaken to provide greater insight and understanding into the environment and support systems currently in place in the communities identified for the implementation of the COSY project, and the mapping report was launched in December 2017.  Following this, the entrepreneurship training programme curriculum was finalised and “Taster Events” were held early in 2018, providing each community and its young people with an introduction and greater understanding of what the programme will deliver. These were designed as showcase events to introduce the programme and gain community buy-in, and drive applications for the entrepreneurship training programme currently being rolled out, which will be complete by the end of the year.  Going forward, top performers from the programme will be selected to undergo further training and upskilling so they will be able to facilitate the foundation level entrepreneurship programme, to be rolled out in 2019.


With continued support from Rand Merchant Bank, the BASA Established Education Programme has been redesigned and is now being presented as theBASA Scale-Up Programme.  Scale-Up aims to inspire renewed vision, and offer experiential learning opportunities and private sector networking tools that will equip participants with the relevant tools to make a meaningful contribution to the sector. The programme encourages collaboration, connection and co-creation towards a more meaningful engagement in the sector through a series of webinars, site visits, events, online engagement and workshops.  The #OwnYourMark workshops in partnership with the British Council and Digify Africa have also been included in the improved programme offering, combining Business and Arts South Africa’s education programme with its Creative Market Growth offerings, and broadening existing partnerships.  The 2018 intake in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal has completed the workshops, site visits and events, and will finish off the programme in October after completing a series of webinars.  A call for applications for the next Scale-Up Programme intake will be released early in 2019.

Belisa Rodrigues of Belle and Co facilitated a day-long workshop on Human Centred Design Thinking with the BASA team in July.  This is a design methodology providing a solution-based approach to solving problems which is useful for tackling complex problems.  The workshop challenged the BASA staff members to think differently and creatively about their own work, but was mainly targeted at upskilling BASA’s facilitators who teach Design Thinking to delegates in the COSY Programme, DAC Debut Programme and BASA Scale-UP Programme.

Having piloted and tested various events and processes over the past year, the Business Exchange Programme is under review and restructure to ensure maximum efficiency and impact.

Funded by an allocation from the Department of Arts and Culture, BASA’s Supporting Grant Programme continues to serve as a mechanism through which business and the arts can engage and achieve mutual benefit.  Through these grants, Business and Arts South Africa aims to equip the artist/arts organisation with the tools to support an approach to a potential sponsor, and to provide such a sponsor with the wherewithal to leverage the proposed partnership effectively.  This is achieved by providing financial support to a project that already has an existing relationship between a business and arts organisation.  This has shifted the perception both of business towards the arts but also of the art vis-à-vis its own activities, within a broader context.  The grants encompass a wide range of activity attracting corporate sector support, and, where possible, Business and Arts South Africa leverages the arts or culture project further through its own media partnerships.  In the first two cycles of 2018, BASA allocated R1,262,000.00 in Supporting Grant funding to 34 projects, and Supporting Grants of R1 leveraged a further R10 in corporate sector spend.  Grant recipient projects include:

  • #I
  • 14th SAJE Jazz Conference
  • A Second Chance
  • Acoustics NOW Music Concert Programme
  • Atman – The Search
  • AVA Marketing Collateral 2018
  • Bienvenu Mixed Arts Workshops
  • Body Politics: Finger Printing South African Contemporary Dance
  • Cape Town Carnival
  • Creative Economy Indaba
  • Current State of Poetry
  • Festival of Excellence in Dramatic Arts
  • Hermanus FynArts Festival
  • Hilton Arts Festival
  • Hlalanam Comedy Experience
  • International Marimba and Steelpan Festival
  • Knysna Literary Festival
  • Mdumbi Green Fair Festival
  • My Body My Space Public Arts Festival
  • Naledi Theatre Awards
  • New Music Indaba
  • Silver Mountain Music Festival
  • Soweto Camp Festival
  • Sport, Art, Heritage and Conservation Carnival
  • Strictly Broadway
  • Talent Unlocked Mentorship and Exhibition
  • The Art of Lithography: LL Editions
  • The Kickstarter Creative Arts Project
  • The Last Night of the Proms
  • The Little Prince
  • The Mayford Spring Concert
  • uMkhanyakude Trade Show
  • Wits Art Museum Education Programme
  • World Choir Games


Celebration focuses on all the marketing, advocacy and eventing which BASA is involved in, such as institutional marketing, Annual BASA Awards, Research Colloquium, Conduct an Orchestra, etc.

We also continue to work closely with media partner KayaFM – celebrating the work of BASA members, and their partnerships with the arts.  The Business and Arts Feature can be heard on the “Kaya FM Bizz” business slot every Thursday at 17:20.

Furthermore, BASA will bid farewell to CEO Michelle Constant, who has resigned after ten years of service and will be stepping down at the end of February 2019.  Citing the need for new energy to take BASA forward and her own desire to explore fresh frontiers, Constant expressed her deep appreciation for her time at the internationally recognised South African development agency.  She said, “I believe that, together with the Department of Arts & Culture, the board, a diverse team and various sectors including business and tourism, we have built up a healthy and vibrant organisation. I look forward to welcoming my successor to what is a truly meaningful and deeply rewarding position within the arts-business landscape.”  The BASA board’s HR committee has begun the recruitment process.

At the Linder Auditorium in February, BASA hosted the third Conduct The Orchestra event, which has become a highlight of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.  The business leaders who conducted the orchestra this year and got first-hand experience of why running a business and making glorious music have so much in common, were Ciko Thomas (Managing Executive: Nedbank Retail and Business Banking), Marcus Desando (CEO at the Arts and Culture Trust), Robyn Cox (MD at IMG South Africa), Carolyn Steyn (philanthropist, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day), Brenda Sisane (actress, arts patron and presenter of Kaya FM’s The Art of Sunday), and Thabi Leoka (independent economist).  Diva Sibongile Khumalo also attended, as she supported Brenda Sisane in a wonderful vocal performance.  Each leader voluntarily stepped out of his or her comfort zone and delivered a great performance under the tutelage of the esteemed Maestro Richard Cock; and each came away from their turn in front the orchestra having helped their corporate peers better understand the relationship between business and the arts.  Says Richard Cock: “Co-ordinating 40 diversely talented people at the same time, in order to create a well-oiled, smoothly functioning group that works literally in harmony one with the other is much like managing a company. Conduct The Orchestra was a huge success this year. Our thanks to all who participated.”

The annual BASA Awards recognise and honour businesses that invest in an inclusive economy through art.  Guests included the cream of the corporate and entrepreneurial world; artists representing every genre of creativity; and government representatives.  BASA announced the winners of the 21st BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard, at Jozi’s fresh new downtown venue, Victoria Yards, on 16 September.  The Awards celebrate a distinct theme each year.  This year, in the year of the Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu centennial, the theme was Legacy.  Winner trophies reflected this theme, each comprising a circular base with four individually crafted, handmade rings atop, making each trophy unique.  The rings depict a diversity of arts, people and enterprises.  They symbolise the variety, diversity and texture that comes from a strong legacy foundation. Artists from across South Africa collaborated on crafting the rings. Among them were the artists at Smelt Studios and artist Ben Tuge (resident at Victoria Yards).

BASA held its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 5 September at the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company at the University of Johannesburg, where the service of outgoing board members Mr Herman Bosman and Dr Gianni Mariano was acknowledged, and new board members Ms Mirna Wessels and Ms Zingisa Motloba were voted in.

Taking a moment to celebrate BASA staff, we have seen existing staff moving into new positions over the past year, and welcomed new staff members to the team:

  • Rochelle Singh, Executive Assistant to the CEO
  • Boitumelo “Tumy” Motsoatsoe, Head of Programmes & Development
  • Madeleine Selmer-Olsen, Head of Research & Development
  • Aviwe Matandela, Client Liaison & Business Manager
  • Sipho Mthiyane, Supporting Grants Officer
  • Palesa Mnyaka, Research Assistant
  • Nthabiseng Mfenyana, Intern


Next Supporting Grants Cycle:

Closing date – 31 October 2018

Outcome available – 29 November 2018

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